Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing tonight (I’ll be there!) and ESPN will show the Tigers and Royals. That seems like a game ESPN decided to pick up in, like, April. Anyway, talk about whatever you like here. Go nuts.
The Yankees swung just one minor deal before the trade deadline ten days ago, landing Dustin Ackley in a three-player swap with the Mariners. The lack of activity was not due to a lack of effort, however. The Yankees were reportedly in on all the available pitchers, starters and relievers, plus some second base candidates. Nothing made sense, I guess. Here are some postmortem trade deadline notes, most via Jon Heyman.
Yanks “shut out” of Price race when Norris was offered
The Yankees tried to acquire David Price before the trade deadline but they and several other teams were “shut out” of the race once the Blue Jays offered lefty Daniel Norris. For what it’s worth Luis Severino and Norris were ranked 17th and 18th, respectively, in Baseball America’s midseason top 50 prospects list a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean much. Prospect rankings are subjective as hell and the Tigers could have liked Norris much more than Severino. Could the Yankees have made up the difference by improving the quality of the secondary pieces? Maybe. Doesn’t really matter now. The Tigers seemed to prioritize Norris.
Reyes came up in talks
Most people, myself included, figured the Rockies would flip Jose Reyes after landing him in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, either at the deadline or this coming offseason. Heyman says Colorado did not shop Reyes at the deadline but his name did come up in trade talks, and if the Yankees made a call to get involved in talks for Reyes, “they were very brief.” Reyes hasn’t played second base in more than a decade now and that’s the only place he’d fit with the Yankees. Didi Gregorius has made way too much progress this summer to move him off short. I could definitely see “Reyes to the Yankees?” being a thing all winter.
Yankees checked in on Prado
The Yankees were one of several teams to check in on Martin Prado prior to the trade deadline. They were presumably looking to bring him back to play second base, or at least spend some time there while bouncing around other positions. Prado is under contract at a pricey $11M next season — the Yankees are paying $3M of that — and he’s not having a good season, hitting .268/.310/.351 (82 wRC+) overall, but he still hits lefties (111 wRC+) and is versatile, which is not nothing. You can do worst for your tenth position player. The Marlins seem to have allusions of contending next year and Prado is penciled in as their starting third baseman.
Yankees planned to platoon Gyorko with Drew
As part of their talks with the Padres about Craig Kimbrel, the Yankees offered to take on at least part of Jedd Gyorko’s albatross contract to facilitate a trade. Had it gone down, their plan was to platoon Gyorko with Stephen Drew at second base. Gyorko, who is owed $33M through 2019, is hitting a miserable .218/.284/.336 (78 wRC+) since signing his extension prior to last season, though he has a 118 wRC+ against lefties during that time, including a 148 wRC+ against southpaws this year. Gyorko is only 26, so I guess there is a chance of a rebound, but gosh, betting that much money on it?
Shields clears trade waivers
As expected, James Shields has passed through trade waivers unclaimed, reports Buster Olney. That’s not surprising. Big salary guys almost always clear trade waivers. His contract is backloaded — Shields made $10M this year and has $21M annually coming to him from 2016-18 — and I think there’s at least a small chance the Padres would have dumped him on the claiming team just to rid themselves of the contract, but no one bit. Shields is having his worst season in a long time (3.75 ERA and 4.22 FIP), and at age 33 with all those innings on his arm, you have to wonder if this is the start of his Sabathia-esque decline. Either way, the Yankees can talk to San Diego about Shields if they want, he’s already cleared waivers. Jack Curry says they’re not interested, for what it’s worth.
Six weeks ago the Yankees took Adam Warren out of the rotation and demoted him to the bullpen for reasons that were unspoken but also crystal clear. Ivan Nova had returned from Tommy John surgery and the team wasn’t prepared to remove CC Sabathia from the rotation because of his contract, so to the ‘pen Warren went. He was the low man on the totem pole.
At the time Warren had a 3.59 ERA (4.14 FIP) in 14 starts and was trending in a positive direction, with a 2.96 ERA (4.07 FIP) and an average of 6.1 innings per start in his final eight starts. He seemed to be getting comfortable as a big league starter, but the Yankees said they needed another reliable right-handed reliever, and Warren was bumped from the starting five.
Warren had quite a bit of success as a reliever the last two years, first as a long man in 2013 and then as a short reliever in 2014, so while removing him from the rotation stunk, the move figured to improve the bullpen. Andrew Miller was on the DL at the time and the Yankees were searching for a reliable righty to pair with Dellin Betances — David Carpenter was out of favor by this point — and Warren seemed perfect for the job.
Instead, Warren has become something of a low-leverage multi-inning reliever, the guy who comes in to soak up some innings when a starter does the five-and-fly thing. Since being moved to the bullpen, Warren’s average leverage index when entering the game is 0.63. 0.63! Esmil Rogers was the epitome of a low-leverage mop-up man and he had a 0.67 LI with the Yankees this year. A 0.63 LI would rank 132nd among the 138 qualified relievers in MLB. (A LI of 1.0 is average. The smaller the LI, the less important the situation.)
Instead of being that second righty setup man we all kinda assumed he would be when he was moved back to the bullpen, Warren’s instead been a mop-up man. Not a guy who moves the needle, and things have been especially egregious of late. Here is the score situation for the Yankees when Warren entered his last six games:
sixth inning down four
seventh inning up 14
sixth inning up ten
sixth inning down two
sixth inning down four
seventh inning down two
I’d be more than happy with Warren pitching in a bunch of games the Yankees were leading by double digits if it happened more often, but that’s not realistic. When Warren entered those games with the Yankees down two, the LI was 0.59 and 0.52. His average LI entering those six games was 0.32. A two-run deficit in the sixth or seventh innings is hardly insurmountable, especially with New York’s generally awesome offense, but in a vacuum it is considered low-leverage work.
Now here’s the thing: Warren’s recent usage is more a result of the game situations and availability than managerial blunders. Yes, Warren absolutely should have faced Justin Smoak with the bases loaded Saturday (this isn’t second guessing, it was clear Nova was out of gas when he was left in to face Smoak), but otherwise there haven’t been any missed opportunities to get him high-leverage work, so to speak. The Yankees scored a ton of runs for a two-week stretch recently and there weren’t many chances to get Warren more important innings.
Warren’s ability to throw multiple innings and the starting staff’s inability to pitch deep into games is working against him. The starter is out after five innings, Joe Girardi goes to Warren for two or three innings, and boom, he’s suddenly unavailable for two or three days. For example, had he not been needed for 41 pitches following Luis Severino‘s five-inning start on Wednesday, Warren likely would have pitched in extra innings Friday, not Branden Pinder.
Perhaps the best course of action going forward is forgetting about Warren’s ability to go multiple innings and treating him as a true one (or occasionally two) inning reliever, allowing him to be available for more games and more high-leverage situations. Maybe this weekend was a sign that’s happening. He faced two batters Saturday then three batters Sunday. (Yes, I know Warren loaded the bases with no outs yesterday. No, I don’t think that means he is not worthy of high-leverage innings. It’s one game.)
Treating Warren as a one inning guy would require having another viable long reliever in the bullpen, at least until rosters expand in three weeks. Bryan Mitchell could be that guy, he is stretched out to 70 or so pitches, though it seems like the Yankees are planning to give him a spot start sometime in the near future to rest the rest of the rotation. That makes Mitchell less of a long relief option. I’m sure they could figure out a way to make it work though. Also, I’m not saying making Warren a one inning guy is definitely the right move. Just throwing it out there as an idea.
Either way, Warren has been reduced from effective starting pitcher to low-leverage mop-up man these last few weeks for more than a few reasons, including the team’s decision to keep running Sabathia out there every fifth day. Warren’s been a wasted asset of late. He’s a good pitcher — a good pitcher versatile enough to pitch in many situations — yet he hasn’t been put in position to provide the team with any sort of impact since being demoted back to relief.
So what happens when the two highest-scoring teams in the majors get together for a game at Yankee Stadium … of course, the final score would be 2-1.
And what happens when the Yankees have Nate Eovaldi on the mound, who entered the game with the second-highest run support average and tied for the highest win percentage among qualified starters … of course, the Yankees would score just one run and lose the game.
Or what happens when the Yankees face the team with the second-worst record in one-run games this season … of course, they’d get beat by the the score of 2-1 against the Blue Jays, who entered the weekend 11-23 in games decided by one run.
Mark Teixeira drove in the Yankees’ only run with a solo homer in the second inning, his 30th home run of the season. It’s the ninth time he’s reached that milestone, matching Mickey Mantle for the most 30-homer seasons all-time by a switch-hitter.
In the words of the philosopher-manager Joe Girardi, “it’s not what you want.” Nope, Joe, scoring zero runs against a team that is chasing you in the division race is not exactly what you want.
The Yankees were blanked on Saturday afternoon, 6-0, and had just three singles the entire game. It was the first time they been shut out by the Blue Jays at home and held to three hits or fewer, with no extra-base hits, since April 10, 1989. The Yankees were one-hit by Dave Stieb in a 8-0 loss that day.
Justin Smoak broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with a grand slam, the first time ever that a Blue Jay had hit a homer with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The last Blue Jay to hit a grand slam against the Yankees was Tony Fernandez off Ted Lilly on Sept. 4, 2001 at the SkyDome.
So remember when the Yankees had scored 90 runs in a 10-game span and the offense seemed unstoppable? Yeah, me neither. The Yankees were shut out for a second straight day on Sunday afternoon, 2-0, and were swept by the Blue Jays in a series of at least three games for the first time since May 22-25, 2003.
It also marked the first time the Yankees had been blanked in back-to-back games by any team since May 12-13, 1999 against the Angels — snapping their major-league-record streak of 2,665 games without consecutive shutouts.
They were held to three singles for the second straight game, too, the first time they’ve had threw or fewer hits and none for extra bases in back-to-back games at either version of Yankee Stadium. The last time they did that in consecutive home games was September 1919 at the Polo Grounds.
The not-Bronx Bombers have now scored no more than two runs in each of their last five home games, their longest such streak at Yankee Stadium since April 17-May 2, 1969. In those five games they’ve totaled just four runs, their worst five-game scoring stretch since August 1973 on a west coast trip against the Angels and A’s.
And it gets even uglier … this is the first time in franchise history they’ve scored four or fewer runs combined in a five-game span, with all those games coming at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The last time that happened to them in a five-game stretch at home was September 1908, when they played at Hilltop Park. They finished the 1908 season 51-103, the second-worst win percentage in a season in franchise history.
Record Last Week: 2-4 (17 RS, 16 RA)
Season Record: 61-49 (529 RS, 468 RA, 62-48 pythag. record) 1.5 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Indians (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- Following Monday’s off-day, the Red Sox came to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series. The Yankees jumped on Boston’s bullpen in Tuesday’s 13-3 win, though the offense came up short in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss. Jacoby Ellsbury‘s late homer gave New York a 2-1 win Thursday.
- The three-game weekend series with the Blue Jays started with Friday’s 2-1 loss in extra innings. Toronto shut the Yankees out 6-0 the next day then again 2-0 the day after that to finish the sweep. Blah.
- Injury Updates: Michael Pineda (forearm) started a throwing program. Dustin Ackley (back) was placed on the DL. Mason Williams (shoulder) had surgery and is done for the year. Brian McCann (knee) missed a few games but has since returned to the lineup. Ian Clarkin (elbow) has started a throwing program and Jacob Lindgren (elbow) will start one soon. Eric Jagielo (knee) had arthroscopic surgery.
- The Braves suggested a Cameron Maybin for Gary Sanchez trade before the deadline. The Yankees are viewed as a potential suitor for Chase Utley in an August waiver trade.
- Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Jorge Mateo all made MLB.com’s midseason top 100 prospects update.
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RHP Chance Adams, this year’s fifth round pick, has been promoted to High-A Tampa, the team announced. The righty reliever out of Dallas Baptist has a 2.11 ERA (1.74 FIP) with 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 21.1 innings with Short Season Staten Island and Low-A Charleston this year. Is Adams on the fast track? Yes. Yes he is.
Triple-A Scranton (9-1 win over Toledo)
- LF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB — threw a runner out at third … 24-for-58 (.414) with two doubles, five triples, and two homers in his last 15 games … can’t help but wonder if Gamel’s breakout is the result of the new development practices (whatever the hell they may be) put in play by new farm system head Gary Denbo, because before this season he was the definition of a fringe prospect
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 3 R, 3 BB
- 1B Greg Bird: 1-2, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP — believe it or not, that’s only his second walk in his last 14 games
- DH Gary Sanchez: 3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI — 23-for-59 (.390) with five doubles and three homers in his last 16 games
- RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
- 3B Jose Pirela: 3-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
- C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
- RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 3/5 GB/FB — 59 of 99 pitches were strikes (60%)
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 21 of 33 pitches were strikes (64%)